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2016 NFL offseason calendar: Buffalo Bills free agency, draft tracker

The 2016 offseason is almost ready to kick off. Here's a list of the dates to keep in mind between now and next season.

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With the Super Bowl coming up in less than a week, the official NFL offseason will soon be upon us. The NFL's offseason calendar can be a bit confusing, given how many dates there are for scouting, signing, tagging, and drafting players, so here's a primer for what's coming up in the new league year.

February 7: Super Bowl 50

February 8: NFL waivers are open. A brief primer on the waiver system can be found here; it's a date to keep in mind, but not one that's likely to impact the league substantially unless Cleveland cuts Johnny Manziel prior to free agency.

February 13 - March 12: The NFL will hold its annual scouting combines, including the primary combine in Indianapolis from February 23-29. In addition, the league will hold an additional five "regional combines," a practice that began in 2011 for players who aren't invited to the main combine, but are still possible draft picks.

February 16: Franchise/transition tag designation window opens. Players must be tagged by 4:00 p.m. ET on March 1. A brief review of tag rules can be found here; at this point, however, there are no dollar amounts for each position set in stone.

March 7-9: Pending free agents are allowed to negotiate contracts with any team. However, unless they are re-signing with their current team, they cannot sign a deal until the league year officially begins.

March 9: The 2016 league year begins at 4:00 p.m. ET. Before this time, teams must:

  • Exercise options for the 2016 season
  • Submit tenders to restricted and exclusive-rights free agents
  • Be compliant with the 2016 salary cap
After 4:00 p.m. ET, the traditional offseason begins. Most veterans are free to sign with any team, and the window for trades reopens until the midseason trade deadline.

March 20-23: NFL owners meet in Boca Raton, Florida. The most notable event from this meeting is usually the vote on the changes suggested by the NFL's competition committee; this season might see the owners vote on a clearer definition of what constitutes a catch, among other things.

April 18: Most teams can begin their offseason workout programs and OTAs. Teams that are working with a new head coach can begin these on April 4.

April 28-30: The 2016 NFL Draft will be held in Chicago. The event this year should be the same as last year, generally speaking. As always, undrafted free agents can be signed immediately after the final pick is announced.

May 6-9, May 13-16: Teams can hold a three-day rookie minicamp on each weekend (note that they have a four-day window, but the camps must occur on only three consecutive days).

June 1: Teams can cut veterans and modify the effect the dead money has on their cap situation. The June 1 designation can be pretty confusing, so here is a good explanation of how it works.

July 15: Players who were designated with either the franchise tag must sign a long-term contract by 4:00 p.m. ET. Those who don't can only sign a one-year contract and must wait until the next offseason to negotiate a long-term deal with their current team.

Mid-Late July: Training camps open. Veterans can report as early as 15 days before their team's first preseason game, while rookies can report up to one week earlier.